KATHMANDU, Nepal- From minister to the government officials to all other tourism stakeholders are concerned and focused on the future of Nepal Airlines Corporation (NAC), the only national flag carrier in the country. They have stressed the NAC management to pave way for the future of NAC urging the yelling corporation to bring at least two wide-body Boeings in its international fleet to boost up the intercontinental market.
Minster for Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation Ram Kumar Shrestha on Monday has directed the NAC management to initiate the process to lease two wide-body aircraft to strengthen its international network.
“As the NAC will get four narrow-body Airbus A320-200 jets within the next one and half years, the national flag carrier is in need of two more wide-body jets for long-haul flights,” said the minister while speaking at the programme organized to mark the NAC’s 55th Anniversary in Kathmandu on Monday.
“Narrow-body aircraft are not enough for NAC to compete in the international market,” minister Shrestha said, adding that the government has “favoured” the ailing carrier for the last time and that it should show its competency. “As the carrier’s credibility is at a risk, it’s high time the NAC refurbished its brand image.”
The NAC has signed a purchase agreement with Airbus for two A320-200 aircraft, while it is in the process to lease two aircraft of the same type under a dry-lease agreement from international aircraft leasing companies. It has shortlisted four leasers for their commercial evaluation.
Tourism Secretary Sushil Ghimire also said addition of wide-body aircraft to the NAC fleet will help meet the growing demand in the long-haul sector. “It’s a difficult task to expand the national carrier’s fleet, but we have to take the challenge,” said Ghimire, who also chairs the NAC board. He said the NAC should be revamped as a commercial entity, and a committee has been formed in this regard.
NAC Managing Director Madan Kharel said the corporation will work on its domestic fleet expansion after international. “We will be operating three twin-otters soon in the domestic sector, while the plan to bring Chinese aircraft for domestic service is in progress,” he said.
Currently, the NAC flies a single aircraft on domestic routes.
The NAC’s Employees Union urged the government to enforce a mandatory provision requiring government officials and politicians, among others, to travel on the national flag carrier.